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Ronan O'Gara cops a ban at his latest French disciplinary hearing

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Xavier Leoty/AFP)

La Rochelle’s preparations for next Sunday’s Investec Champions Cup visit of Irish rivals Leinster have been dealt a blow following the outcome of the latest French disciplinary hearing for their coach Ronan O’Gara.

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The former Ireland out-half was called to account for his alleged behaviour towards match officials in Paris during a recent Top 14 defeat for his team at Racing 92, a summons that left O’Gara flabbergasted.

Writing last Friday in his weekly Irish Examiner column, he explained: “There were a few words exchanged with the fourth and fifth referees at half-time regarding the non-awarding of a penalty try to La Rochelle by referee Adrien Descottes.

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“I have been subpoenaed for what is referred to as bad behaviour. If all the coaches in the Top 14 were accused of bad behaviour every time they questioned or commented on a wrong decision, they wouldn’t have time to do anything else in the week.”

O’Gara, who has been the subject of numerous French disciplinary hearings since taking charge at La Rochelle, has now had his latest case heard and the outcome published on Wednesday evening was a one-match ban.

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A Ligue Nationale de Rugby statement read: “Ronan O’Gara was sanctioned with a one-week suspension for ‘indiscipline’. Taking into account the Stade Rochelais’ fixture list, O’Gara will be requalified on December 11. In addition, the Stade Rochelais was not sanctioned.”

The decision will mean that O’Gara won’t be able to be on the sidelines when La Rochelle this weekend host Leinster, the team they have defeated in the last two Champions Cup finals in Marseille and Dublin.

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Teddy Thomas will also be unavailable for the rematch with Leinster as he has received a five-game ban following his red card in the same league loss at Racing.

In his Irish newspaper column last week, O’Gara further alleged that he gets treated differently by the Top 14 administrators because he is Irish. “Christophe Urios (of Clermont) has publicly criticised the referees, but he is not an Irish coach who is making his way in France,” he suggested.

“When there is guilt, you have to acknowledge it, as I have done in the past. There have been times when I have questioned decisions and expressed my frustration…

“Certainly, there is a sense here, without a hint of paranoia, that selective treatment is a concern. Others appear to be able to comment on officialdom with impunity, yet I look sideways at someone and I am up before a hearing committee again.”

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